UPDATED:  February 27, 2011 10:42 PM
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Rahat Fateh Ali Khan Shines in Washington

By: Geeta Goindi

WASHINGTON – Transcending all borders, barriers and breeds, Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, among the top singers in Bollywood today, performed before a capacity crowd at the ornate Warner Theatre, one of the most beautiful venues in the nation’s capital.

  People from the South Asian subcontinent - primarily India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan - packed the theatre, Saturday, to hear this tremendously gifted singer weave and render verses and numbers which have made him a household name today!  Such is the widespread appeal of Khan Saab’s music which draws on the ancient musical traditions of the subcontinent.  His name spells melody!
  The Pakistani artiste is the nephew of legendary qawwali singer Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan who referred to him as “My eyes upon the world”!  He is heir to the Ustad’s awe-inspiring legacy.

  At the Warner Theatre, Khan Saab performed non-stop, barring a 20-minute interval, for well over three hours, in a concert adeptly organized by Meenu Sabharwal.  Wearing a black, gold and red sherwani, he began with a qawwali, an Islamic devotional song, “Allah Hoo”, a powerful offering to the Almighty.  It became clear from the outset that here is a God-gifted singer with a Heaven-sent voice!

  This was followed by “Aaj din chadiya” from the acclaimed film, ‘Love Aaj Kal’.  Khan Saab’s distinctive high-pitched rendition has brought the Sufiana style to the forefront of Bollywood music.  He shared this with the audience on Saturday in several hit songs: “Sajda” (My Name is Khan), “Naina thag lenge” (Omkara), “Tum jo aaye” (Once Upon A Time In Mumbai), “Dil to bacha hai jee” (Ishqiya), and “O re piya” (Aaja Nachle).

  The most popular song of the night was “Tere mast mast do nain” (Dabangg) which he sang to loud cheers from a dance-delighted audience, happy to be on its feet.  So great was the response that Khan Saab rendered it again towards the end of the concert.

  In his choice of qawwalis and ghazals, he paid a rich tribute to Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan.  Among the qawwalis were: “Je tu Rab nu manana, pehle yaar nu mana”, in chaste Punjabi; “Aafreen Aafreen”; and “Ankhiyan udeek diyan”.  Ghazals included “Tumhe dillagi bhool jaani padegi” and “Yeh jo halka halka suroor hai, yeh teri nazar ka kussoor hai”.  In both these forms, he demonstrated an expertise in classical music.

  The qawwalis, ghazals and hugely popular Bollywood numbers were interspersed with the soulful, “Mein tenu samjhavan”, a beautiful ballad in Punjabi.  The finale featured Khan Saab singing “Mast Kalandhar”, to loud cheers from the audience and big bursts of confetti!

  For those who missed this concert, Rahat Fateh Ali Khan will be performing again in Washington, on Friday, May 27, at the Constitution Hall.  For details, readers can check www.desiclub.com

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